|Photo Credit: ESPN|
By all marks, Isaac was a special type of recruit that could change the entire dynamic of a team. Scout has him ranked as the #1 running back in the country and as a 5* player. Rivals has him a bit lower as the #2 running back in the country and a 4*, but will likely be upgraded to a 5* in the near future. I don't think I need to explain how impressive it is to be either the #1 or #2 running back in any recruiting class. He is literally a one in a million type of player.
By all reports, Michigan had been in his consideration for a while, but he ultimately decided to commit to USC today. There's no doubt that USC is going to be getting a great player. Did he make the right decision? I really can't say. I don't know the future, and we have no idea how Michigan and USC's teams will look like when he arrives on campus and when he leaves USC. The main question should revolve around the impact on Michigan's recruiting class and for the team's future. Is this something that's going to hurt this class and the team?
There's no doubt that losing out on the #1 or #2 recruit for any position is not a good thing. However, I really don't think this is something that's going to do a lot of damage long-term. Why do I believe this? Take a look at defending Big Ten Champion Wisconsin. Montee Ball has had amazing success at the running back position and is one of the major reasons why Wisconsin has been so successful as of late. However, if you asked an NFL scout about Wisconsin's strengths, he probably wouldn't describe Wisconsin's running backs as their strongest position. Instead, he would probably describe the offensive linemen.
Wisconsin's high-powered offense has been built on elite offensive linemen that have been able to allow the running backs to have great success. Of course, Ball and Wisconsin's former running backs are talented, but let's be honest. If there's a huge gaping hole in the defense, most running backs are probably going to do pretty well. Running backs can have a big impact on a team, but the most important part of running success is the role of offensive linemen. No matter how good a running back is individually, they are not likely do well without at least a decent offensive line.
Michigan has been recruiting an elite offensive line for the future. Just look at the 2012 and 2013 Michigan commitments. Michigan had 4 offensive line commits in 2012, and currently has 5 offensive line commits for the 2013 class. However, these aren't just random commits. Almost every one of these commits are elite linemen that can make an enormous impact for Michigan. Just take a look at 2012 commit Kyle Kalis and 2013 commit Chris Fox. Rivals has both of these guys as #4 in the country for their positions.
Unless something dramatic happens, Michigan is going to have a very elite offensive line in the near future. This is important because of what I described above in the case of Wisconsin. Having an elite running back like Isaac would have certainly helped Michigan's running game, but with these type of elite linemen headed to campus, I really don't think the running game is going to need too much help.
Just take a look at Michigan's 2012 and 2013 running back commitments. Michigan currently has four commitments between the two classes and is still in position to land some other elite recruits in 2013. Along with this, Michigan should have solid running back depth between Fitz Toussaint and Thomas Rawls for at least the next few years. That means some of these 2012 and 2013 commits will have some time to bulk up and get adjusted to college play.
As I said earlier, losing out on Ty Isaac is never going to be a positive for Michigan, but this currently isn't something that's going to severely hurt this team's chances long-term. With Michigan's elite incoming offensive linemen and running back depth, I just don't see this as being something that really impacts this team, even in the future in a very significant way. It is without a doubt a set-back for Michigan's recruiting, but not something that's going to cripple Michigan by any means. The team's still in very good shape based on Hoke's incredible recruiting.